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Top Tips to get ahead of the curve 

Dial “M” for ….. well, Value. Two inexpensive wines starting with the same letter, that were ignored for years (or altogether in one case) show what you have been missing.

Ten years ago folk would have viewed mentions of muscadet or monastrell with wrinkled brows.

Even those who knew the latter by any of its other names (especially its French one) still saw its main role in life as supercharging blends of more prestigious varieties.

Nowadays though, often by optimising picking times, it is providing great wine all on its own – especially in its Spanish homeland.

Equally muscadet was considered a “yesterday’s wine”, out of fashion since the Nineties and largely superseded by picpoul and albarino as “go-to” seafood wines.

Today, then, we give airtime to modern examples of both wines that show why each of them should be on your wine radar right now.

Try them while still slightly unfashionable, and you will get great value options. 

Adopting my traditional format, images and, where possible, hyperlinks accompany the assessments of the wines.

A Spanish red goes it alone

Mateo Nieves Monastrell (£7 – instead of £8.50 on a Rollback at Asda)

Known as mourvedre in France, monastrell was originally a Spanish grape but – as I say – was largely a blending partner there until recently.

However, with skilled vineyard management it now does marvellously on its own – as this well-priced Asda example from Murcia demonstrates.

Dark and dense, it delivers plum, brazil nut and caramel flavours wrapped in a mocha, vanilla and savoury herb overcoat that also contains gentle acidity and restrained tannin.

A classic revived

2020 Calvet Muscadet (£7 at Sainsbury’s):  

Calvet recently launched a campaign to re-position itself yet avoid compromising its status as the UK’s No. 1 French wine brand. 

Here is one of its wines that not only underlines that status but also offers a whiff of nostalgia.

It reminds us of something we treasured long ago, before excessive demand and poor harvests brought its house down; this is indeed classic muscadet.

Delicate but with a lively mouthfeel, it features soft quince, melon and cooked apple flavours supported by pithy lemon acidity and a long finish with faint saline touches.

The next post (on Thursday) reveals my suggestions for a Friday Night treat to ease you into the weekend along with the latest Sunday Best option and an outline of the current High Street promotions.

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